Ahead of the upcoming 18th Lok Sabha elections (India's bicameral lower house), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the government's interim budget for 2024-2025.
India will spend a provisional amount of 90,171 million rupees ($10.8 billion) on health next fiscal year, up from 79,221 billion rupees ($9.5 billion) previously. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the following major projects:
Expand the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, a health guarantee scheme, to reach 1.5 million community health workers called ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists), rural child care (Anganwadi) workers and include helper
Establish more medical and nursing colleges to support Addressing the shortage of medical professionals
Nationwide expansion of U-WIN Immunization Management Platform and Vaccination Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer in Girls Ages 9-14. Both will contribute to Mission Indradhanush's goal of achieving 90% vaccination coverage among children in India.
Upgrading Anganwadi Centers to Improve Nutrition and Services
Biotechnology R&D budget increased to 110 billion rupees ($132.5 million) from 500 million rupees ($60.2 million) last year
Meanwhile, a 1 trillion rupee ($12 billion) budget for states that provides interest-free loans for up to 50 years to support research and innovation in so-called “sunrise sectors”, including medical technology, was described as “commendable”. said the Chairman of Apollo Hospitals. Dr. Pratap C. Reddy. In a statement sent to Healthcare IT NewsHe also urged the government to “consider expanding tax credits for preventive health care” as cases of non-communicable diseases rise.
”[U]Unless India places greater emphasis on innovation and research, the nation will not be able to overcome its pressing disease burden, including India's alarming rise in cases. [antimicrobial resistance] and undetected heart disease and cancer.Innovative solutions that make healthcare more affordable and accessible [are] This is exactly the need of the times. ”
Dr Reddy also believes that India will emerge as a “pioneer in global workforce development” due to its focus on training and upskilling. “We welcome the strategy to strengthen medical education by leveraging existing hospital infrastructure. In doing so, we will not only pave the way to increase the number of medical and nursing colleges, but also strengthen capacity for paramedical training.” To do.”
While the government's apparent focus on health research, infrastructure and accessibility will create “exciting opportunities for progress,” Attorney Rustom, CEO and founder of Augnito, believes that “specific He pointed out the uncertainty caused by the lack of a comprehensive AI plan. [in healthcare]. ”
“Probably these will be featured in the July budget, but the focus on ‘deep technology for defence’ suggests. [that] “The government recognizes the strategic importance of such technology,” he said optimistically. He said the formal budget, due by July, would be an “important opportunity to unlock the full potential of digital health”.
Charting the direction of healthcare AI in India
The lawyer stressed that now is the time to act on India's aspirations for AI-driven healthcare, as the industry expects further clarity in July's Budget.
“We need a dedicated roadmap, a national AI center for research, and a robust ethical framework to ensure responsible implementation. Imagine personalized medicine that supports and tailors treatment to individual patients. Expands broadband access and accelerates the adoption of telemedicine. Clear reimbursement policies and ensuring data security. is also an important step, allowing patients in remote villages to access specialist care even from miles away.
“Breaking down data silos and fostering collaboration is also essential. Standardized data formats, national health data repositories with robust privacy protections, and investments in cybersecurity are key. Imagine gleaning insights from automated data to accelerate medical advances and give doctors access to a patient's complete information about their medical history at different hospitals.
“Finally, it is essential to equip healthcare workers with digital literacy, AI training and data analysis skills. Nurses providing remote care are the future of the industry. Like healthcare providers, we also need to empower individuals to take control of their own health. Digital for remote monitoring, chronic disease management, and preventive interventions Powered by tools, patients can proactively manage their health through mobile medical apps and receive personalized health recommendations based on their unique data.
“By investing in these strategic areas, we can build a truly transformative digital health ecosystem in India. This is not just a matter of technology; it is about empowering individuals and transforming healthcare delivery. and move India towards a healthier and more just future.”